FLORENCE, MASS. — Three months ago, William P. Nagle Jr. was one of the first outsiders to learn that Summit Plastic Solutions Inc. was facing an imminent shutdown and liquidation.
And, by all accounts, he has played a leading role in preventing that scenario at the Florence injection molder.
Nagle, majority leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, learned of the news from his friend and neighbor Patrick McGrath, a project engineer for Summit's Pro Corp. unit.
Responding to McGrath's telephone call, Nagle launched an immediate effort to stop the closing.
``I was concerned about what would happen here,'' Nagle said in an interview in Florence.
He postponed his plans for a family vacation and contacted Summit's Chicago-based major shareholder, Mesirow Private Equity Investments Inc., and a cadre of political officials at local, state and federal levels.
Within a week, a dozen politicians, including representatives from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy's office, had converged on Nonotuck Street — the same street the firm was founded on 150 years ago. After touring Summit's headquarters, each politician pledged to use his or her resources in the search for a buyer.
``My father's family grew up on Nonotuck Street,'' said the Northampton-based Democrat. ``And Dad's oldest brother, the late Father Patrick Nagle,'' worked at Summit (then Pro Brush) before becoming a priest.
``We're really vested,'' he said, speaking for himself and his chief of staff, Peter Kocot, both of whom went to Northampton High School with neighbors who now work at Summit.
``So these are all our people,'' Nagle said.
Nagle's people — the 150 employees at Summit — appear to be in safer hands now. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Springfield, Mass., on Oct. 15 approved Summit's sale to Paritosh Chakrabarti, controller of PMC Group, a holding company based in Stockerton, Pa. The company agreed to pay $5.2 million for the firm. Closing is scheduled for Oct. 22.
Indeed, the purchase is a success story. And Nagle is the author.
Considering the possibility of finding a buyer three months ago, employee Tom Gagnon, whose father, Ernest, and grandfather, Joseph, also had worked for the company, declared: ``God bless anybody who buys us. That would be awesome. That would be great.''
Chakrabarti said Nagle's concern for the Pro factory workers is genuine. ``I have the deepest regard for him. I was absolutely moved by the quality of his effort,'' he said.
``He was singularly responsible to make sure the company survives. I have never seen a politician so deeply involved with his constituency and trying to preserve jobs,'' Chakrabarti said.
``If it had not been for him, I would not have come back'' to Florence to buy the firm, he said.
Reflecting on the search for a buyer, Nagle said: ``Any time you have a potential closing, responding quickly with state-structured aid provides hope of saving the company. What surprises me is that the industrial manufacturing community isn't aware of the programs and funding available.''
Nagle said he ``laid out [for Chakrabarti] what we can do for him.'' For example, he pledged to secure a federal retooling grant of between $400,000 and $1 million, which the firm may use to buy a 2,500-ton press for molding large, thick-walled parts.
Government money also will be made available for cross-training and retraining of Summit's employees, Nagle said. And Chakrabarti has requested an easement along the Mill River that runs behind Summit.
The easement would provide public access to the community, Nagle said, noting that available grants then could provide ``improvements and the like'' along the river's banks.
Nagle also initiated talks with the University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus, home of the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research, to establish a link with Summit. Nagle expects that Summit will serve as a laboratory for the center's research.
``We lose a lot of that research dollar to other states,'' said Nagle, stressing, ``money and time are built into the transit of that information. Development could proceed here.''